Have you decided to file for divorce in Fairfax, VA? The divorce process can be complicated by many different factors. At The Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury, PLC, we know how important it is to understand what you’re getting into after you’ve made the difficult decision to divorce.
Our Fairfax divorce lawyers have over 11 years of experience helping clients resolve sensitive family law matters. Since 2014, our team has dedicated our practice to helping families like yours find creative and realistic solutions to complex problems.
Facing the end of a marriage is never easy. Our lawyers have prepared these divorce FAQs to help you understand the legal process and the issues you may encounter as your divorce proceeds. Contact our law offices in Fairfax, Virginia, you can call us at (703) 271-6519 to discuss your specific case in detail.
How The Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury, PLC Can Help With the Divorce Process in Fairfax, VA
Divorce can be extremely emotional. Even if you and your spouse have come to the decision amicably, a divorce can become complicated once you start to dive into the practical details. Our goal is to make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible.
At The Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury, PLC, our Fairfax family law attorneys have earned a perfect 10 Avvo rating, and we’ve won the Avvo Client’s Choice Award.
When you call our divorce lawyers to help with your case, we will:
- Handle all paperwork related to the dissolution of marriage
- Communicate with your spouse and their attorney
- Facilitate mediation if necessary to reach an agreement on relevant legal issues
- Help with temporary child support and spousal support issues
- Make sure you understand your legal rights and options
- Represent you through every stage of the divorce
To learn more about how our team can help, call for a consultation with a Fairfax family lawyer today.
What Is the Process for Obtaining a Divorce in Virginia?
The divorce process formally begins with a bill of complaint, or petition for divorce. Even in amicable situations, one spouse will file the petition and serve it on the other spouse. The spouse who files the petition is known as the plaintiff, and the spouse who receives the petition is the defendant. Your divorce attorney will help you complete the petition.
Here are the basic steps that must be completed to obtain a divorce in Virginia:
- Your attorney will file a petition for divorce with the Fairfax County Circuit Court
- The divorce papers are served on the defendant’s spouse
- The defendant spouse then has 21 days to respond to the divorce petition or a default judgment can be ordered in favor of the plaintiff spouse
At this stage, what happens next will depend on whether the two spouses have been able to agree on all issues related to the divorce. If the defendant’s spouse contests matters contained in the divorce complaint, the divorce will be considered contested.
In contested divorces, the following is likely to happen:
- A discovery process begins, where attorneys for both parties ask questions and collect information pertaining to the contested issues
- Settlement negotiations will begin
- Mediation may be agreed upon or court-ordered
- A divorce trial will occur if the two spouses are unable to reach an agreement
If the divorce is uncontested, the judge will likely sign the final divorce decree immediately after reviewing the settlement agreement.
Can I File for No-Fault Divorce in Virginia?
Yes. As in most other states, you can file for a no-fault divorce in Virginia.
To obtain a no-fault divorce under Virginia law, you must live separately and apart from your spouse for at least one year prior to filing for divorce. If two spouses with no minor children agree and enter into a legal separation agreement, the one-year separation term can be reduced to six months.
What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Virginia?
First and foremost, one of the spouses must reside in the Commonwealth of Virginia for at least six months prior to filing for divorce.
Once the residency requirement has been established, the following provide legal grounds for divorce in Virginia:
- Sodomy or buggery outside of the marriage
- One spouse has been convicted of a felony and sentenced to at least one year of confinement
If none of these grounds for divorce exist, the spouses must satisfy the requirements for a no-fault divorce. That means you must live apart for one consecutive year or, if you have no children, enter an agreement to reduce the one-year separation period to six months.
What Is the Difference Between an Uncontested Divorce and a No-Fault Divorce?
In a no-fault divorce, no legal grounds for the divorce exist.
In an uncontested divorce, the two spouses agree on all issues involved, including those related to:
Remember that a no-fault divorce can still be contested. You can obtain a no-fault divorce even if you and your spouse disagree on critical issues. You can also obtain a no-fault divorce if your spouse does not agree to the divorce itself.
Will I Have To Go to Court To Get a Divorce in Fairfax, VA?
If the divorce is uncontested, meaning that the spouses agree on all relevant issues, divorce documents and testimony can be provided to the judge via affidavit. You probably won’t have to appear in court unless you request an oral hearing in front of the judge.
If your divorce is contested, the amount of time you spend in court will depend on how the issues are resolved. It is likely that at least one hearing will be required. However, with an experienced attorney and mediator by your side, you may be able to resolve the issues without a formal trial.
What Rules Govern the Award of Spousal Support in Virginia?
Spousal support in Virginia is not automatic. However, it may be awarded in cases where the two spouses have unequal earning capacities. Often, that’s the case when one spouse stayed at home so that the other could pursue a career.
There are two primary types of spousal support aside from temporary spousal support, which may be awarded while the divorce is pending:
- Rehabilitative support paid to help the lower-earning spouse complete job training or search for employment
- “Permanent support,” which is typically ordered based on the length of the marriage
Spousal support orders depend primarily on the financial information of each spouse. However, remember that even a permanent order can be modified based on changes in the financial circumstances of either party.
How Are Child Custody Issues Resolved in Virginia?
As in other states, child custody issues are resolved based on what is in the best interests of the child.
Under Virginia law, courts consider all relevant factors, including:
- The age, physical and mental condition of the child
- The age, physical and mental condition of each parent
- The needs of the child
- The child’s relationship with each parent
- The role that each parent has played in the child’s life
- Any history of substance abuse or domestic violence
- The child’s own preferences, considering the child’s age
- Any other factors that the court deems relevant
There are two primary types of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Physical custody refers to who the child lives with, and legal custody refers to each parent’s ability to make important decisions regarding the child’s life. Courts can also order visitation rights for the parent without physical custody.
Joint custody allows the two parents to retain joint legal and/or physical custody.
What Will Happen to My Home After My Divorce Is Finalized in Virginia?
All property that was acquired during the marriage must be divided between the two spouses. That includes a marital home acquired during marriage. Property owned prior to marriage is separate property.
Virginia is an equitable distribution state. That means that the way courts divide property should be fair, but not necessarily equal. It is possible that one spouse will retain ownership of the marital home. It’s also possible that the home could be sold and the profits divided between the two parties.
It really depends on the assets and debts that must be divided, as well as one spouse’s strong preference for maintaining the marital estate. The skill of your divorce attorney can be extremely important to maintaining your home if you wish.
How Long Does It Take To Get a Divorce in the Commonwealth of Virginia?
Every case is different. It is possible to obtain a quick and easy divorce in Virginia if you and your spouse agree on all relevant terms.
There are issues that can make the divorce process last several months, if not longer. That’s especially true if the divorce is hotly contested.
Contact an Experienced Divorce Lawyer for Answers to More Divorce FAQs
Filing for divorce is always a big decision. It’s one that will change your life in fundamental ways–and you deserve to know what you’re getting into before you make your final decision. For answers to more divorce FAQs, contact The Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury, PLC to arrange a consultation today.